I just stumbled on this piece by a scuba diver and self-proclaimed atheist who found God in the eyes of a white shark off Guadalupe Island.
I needed an epiphany like this to heal the horror of a student presentation given in my 10:40 class. After outlining the habitat, biology of the endangered scalloped hammerhead shark, the student played a clip in which some smug idiot catches a juvenile scalloped hammerhead and holds the small shark on the deck pointing out its distinguishing characteristics while the fish gasps, thrashes and finally dies on camera. I felt like placing a bag over the man’s head and asphyxiating him while calmly identifying the major appendages that identify him as a Homo sapiens.
My meltdown drowned out the asinine anatomy lesson. I tried to turn my rage into a “teachable moment.” As the shark’s death seemed to happen in the name of education, I talked about the destructive “research” of OCEARCH and urged the class to write about corruption in marine conservation. “Please tell me,” I said to the darkened classroom, “how I can continue to witness things like this and not become totally hopeless. Can you guys answer that on the final?”
They nodded sympathetically.
“It’s like zoos,” one girl said. She didn’t elaborate, but I guess I understood.
Lou Reed was right: “You need a busload of faith to get by.”
But sometimes faith involves more forgetting/denial than it does hope.
Lou Reed also said “that caustic dread inside your head will never help you out.”
A conscious rejection of too much negative thinking is another necessity of “getting by.”
Lou Reed’s death leaves me feeling a bit lonely for this kind of immediate connection, this ability to cut fearlessly through to the truth.
It makes me want to be less straitjacketed by wanting to be liked and not being afraid to show how incredibly angry and sad all this stuff with animals makes me feel without trying to wrap it in what David Foster Wallace called “rhetorical niceties. But I don’t want to rant self-righteously either. I hope I can find some place in the middle of anger and reverence, joy and despair that isn’t too middle of the road.
Scalloped hammerhead (Sphyrna lewini) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)